3 Things Pastors Must Do to “Equip the Saints”

1 Samuel 17:38-39

Then Saul dressed David in his own tunic. He put a coat of armor on him and a bronze helmet on his head. David fastened on his sword over the tunic and tried walking around, because he was not used to them.
“I cannot go in these,” he said to Saul, “because I am not used to them.” So he took them off.

I love the above story because we see poor leadership on Saul’s part–he has failed to properly equip David for the battle.
For the past year, I have been using the metaphor of a pastor being an equipment manager. An equipment manager has three specific tasks:

  • they must provide adequate resources to their team
  • know their players capabilities
  • get out of the way for the team to achieve its objective.

A failure at any of these stages will not produce the desired outcome.

Therefore, as pastors we:

1) Must draw deep on our playbook, knowing the Bible inside and out. As Ken Schultz once challenged me, “we should be the ones who know the gospel the best in our communities.” Rather than dissecting the text like an academic project, we must allow the text to reorient our lives:

“Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.:” Romans 12:2 The Message

2) Must connect with their congregation on a personal level; not just at moments of tragedy but in the calmness so we can identify people’s passions, skills and interests. It is how we win the right to be heard (notice that to have something worth saying means we need to achieve the first step).
As Peter begs the elders:

“To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder and a witness of Christ’s sufferings who also will share in the glory to be revealed: Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, watching over them—not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not pursuing dishonest gain, but eager to serve; not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock.”

This is where I think pastors often fall into two mistaken categories, either we separate ourselves too far from our flock and LORD over them with fake piety–like the Pharisees we parade around and cause people to hold us off with a long stick. Recently, I was told that someone liked being able to drink a beer in front of me and not feel judged…seriously, pastors if you are causing that sort of consernation in someone’s life, return to step one.

However, more dangerously there is a growing tendency for pastors “to want to just be one of the flock,” and through self-deprecation we want to be relatable–suggesting that we are no different then the rest of the community. While we may make good friends, we become horrible spiritual leaders. In doing so, we fail at our role to be an elder, which is someone a few stages out front saying “If I can do it, you can do it; Here is how you do it; come follow me following Him.”

3) Must let the community go and be the ones in action. Our society views pastors just as we do Financial Advisors, Lawyers, Doctors and Therapists. People pay to get godly advice; they come to listen to our diatribes but rarely change anything in their life. So we take on more and more responsibility, we fill more and more gaps by hiring youth workers, young adult pastors, community organizers…Instead, we need to reclaim the image of equipping people for battle by putting on the armor of God so that they can enter into their teenager’s room, the poor area of town, those 20 yearolds who seemed to have given up on Church (but not on God).

Insistent teaching without sending will simply bore our communities, and as the saying goes, “It is sin to bore people with the gospel.”  Imagine you went to the Natahalla rafting center, and sat through the instructions, wear handed a paddle and a lifevest, but then never allowed to run the rapids.  Are we releasing our communities to live out the gospel in their places of influence?  Or are we allowing people to just observe.
At Waypoint we have tweaked a common leadership mechanism that we want people to move from watching to helping to leading. With 85% of church attendees having passive personality types, it takes a massive and intentional effort to challenge people through the pulpit into the pew and onto the pavement.

The church should not be an infirmary, but an outfitter who trains, equips and sends people out on their spiritual journey.
This is why Christ empowered local leaders:

Ephesians 4:11-12

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up

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